Review Detail

4.2 2
Young Adult Fiction 2968
Better Suited for Younger or Reluctant Readers
(Updated: December 11, 2012)
Overall rating
Writing Style
Writing this review gives me no pleasure. I've been eagerly anticipating Prophecy for months, ever since I heard the comparison to Graceling. On top of that, Ellen Oh totally rocks and I've loved conversing with her on Twitter. Even more excitement stemmed from the Korean setting; I'm completely obsessed with kdrama, and Korea as a result of that. Perhaps I should stop adding books compared to Kristin Cashore to my reading list, as I think three out of three have been monumental failures for me.

Much as I wanted to love this, Prophecy is not ideal for those well-versed in the fantasy genre. The comparison to Kristin Cashore's Graceling really does Oh a disservice, as the books differ greatly in tone and composition. Oh's simple writing might better fit younger readers, just transitioning to fantasy. Those readers, too, might be less familiar with fantasy tropes and thus less aware of where the plot was going from page one. Middle grade and reluctant readers can feel comfortable venturing into Oh's work; fantasy can be overwhelming for a novice reader, but Oh's can be ventured into without fear.

Kira sounded like my kind of heroine from the blurb. There are so many books that I have loved that centered on a female with major butt-kicking powers, including Graceling. While Kira does successfully kick and punch and smite a lot of bad guys, she lacks all the idiosyncrasies that combine to create a unique personality. When not killing things, she has no clue what to do with herself. She has no apparent interests aside from fighting, and thinks about nothing but that and her family. She is single-minded to the point of unreality. Worse still, Kira whines constantly, misunderstood by everyone in her kingdom. In theory, I should have her back; I mean, I've been friendless and it's incredibly awful, and being the only woman in the army cannot be easy either. Because of the aforementioned lack of personality, I could not relate to Kira. As with the writing, she read younger, and perhaps better suits a middle grade audience.

Everyone calls her Demon Slayer, and loathes her, thinking her a murderer of humans, unaware that she is actually slaying demons, who secretly wander the kingdom in human guise. Anyone else see the inconsistency there? If the populace doesn't know demons exist, why would they be calling her Demon Slayer? Kira has increased strength, yellow eyes, and a powerful sense of smell to aid in her demon smiting. She mentions that the stench of unwashed people in a public house can give her a powerful headache, yet she wanders through several fetid sewer tunnels throughout the course of the novel without any ill effects. Hopefully these plot holes will be tightened up before publication.

Unfortunately, Kira is not the only static character. Taejo, crown prince of Hansong, has to be one of the most irritating child characters I have ever encountered in fiction. He may only be twelve, but, as a crown prince, he should have at least a rudimentary sense of how to defend himself, which he does not exhibit. He exists solely for yelling, getting kidnapped, and needing to be rescued. Despite his inability to do much of anything, every one is convinced that he will be the Demon Musado of prophecy, meant to slay the evil doer, and that he will be the king to unite everyone. His impulsive decisions merely cause more trouble, but no one seems to notice that, should they not start training him soon, he would be a miserable king, because of his spoiled upbringing. Instead, everyone indulges his temper tantrums and does what he says.

The most promising characters were Kira's two future love interests, romance not being a real factor in this installment. The dearth of romance makes for a nice change of pace from the romance-focused majority of YA currently being published. Though fathoming their attraction to Kira proves a bit tricky, both guys do show more promise, because of the shades of gray in their characters. They show promise, and I hope to see them, as well as everyone else more fully fleshed out as the series continues. As it is, good and evil are starkly demarcated.

In a book with a large solid action/adventure component and a main character who spends much of her time battling, I hoped for better descriptions of the fight scenes. If the action had been better described, the book would have been much more solid. Unfortunately, everything happens too easily. Battles end in about a page and a half. People attack, Kira slices, Taejo gets grabbed, Kira chases and slices, and the battle concludes. This formula plays out time and again. There's no sense of suspense, because of how incredibly gifted Kira is and how little she seems to even be bothered by gruesome wounds. The style tells rather than shows, and does not set up a clear mental picture of the actual fights.

All that aside, were this book made into a kdrama, I would be the first to put that show in my queue. As I was reading, I made a movie in my head of everything that happened, and Prophecy would transition well to film. Seriously, makers of kdrama, untapped potential awaits you.

Veteran fantasy readers should steer clear of Prophecy, likely to be disappointed by the predictable plot. For those of you who have always been intimidated by the length and complicated setups in fantasy but have always wanted to try, Prophecy might be a good first stepping stone.
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January 04, 2013
I've been up and down on reading this one right now. I will eventually read it, but I've been in a reading slump for the past few weeks, so I really wanted something that would pop me right out of it. Nice to know this one is more Middle Grade, as I'm not usually a huge fan of MG.
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